Salvation Army faces big shortfall

It’s been a tough month for the local Salvation Army.
May traditionally is the month for the Red Shield Appeal—one of its two major annual fundraisers.
While the Christmas kettle drive only helps fund Christmas hampers for needy families, the Red Shield Appeal raises money for the Salvation Army’s year-round programs.
Capts. Angel and Marlene Sandoval of the Fort Frances mission had set a goal of $16,000 this year. To date, though, they have raised a mere $4,900—less than one-third of their target.
And there only are a few days left in the appeal.
“The generosity has been limited so far,” Capt. Angel noted. “I don’t know why.”
But while donations have dropped, the need continues to grow.
“Last year, from January to December, 405 families knocked at the door asking for help. Fifty-one of those were new cases,” Capt. Angel said. “It was really incredible.”
The local Salvation Army spent $27,000 on Christmas hampers alone last year. The 292 hampers distributed had a total value of about $47,000.
“It’s a lot of money for a community where we don’t see poverty like in the big cities,” he noted. “We don’t have homeless people. What we have is a hidden homeless community.”
Capt. Angel said some people in town have no home of their own, but are able to stay with friends or family members for a few days at a time, constantly moving from place to place.
The money raised through the Red Shield Appeal goes towards the Salvation Army’s operational budget. If they can’t raise the needed $16,000, people in need will have to be turned away.
In fact, the Sandovals already have had to turn down some people asking for assistance with rent or hydro bills.
“If five people ask for a place to stay, I have to say ‘no’ to four,” Capt. Angel said.
“When people come to our door, you can tell the need they have by the expression on their face,” Capt. Marlene noted. “I’m really broken-hearted to say no to people. But if we don’t have the funds, how can we help?”
“We’ll have to cut programs,” warned Capt. Angel. “It will be more stressful for parents having nothing to provide to their families.”
The Red Shield Appeal is conducted through letters, as well as door-to-door canvassing. Capt. Angel said he and his wife sent out letters personally from the mission here while the office in Winnipeg also sent letters to local residents.
He speculated some people may be hesitant to send their donations to Winnipeg out of fear the money may be used there instead of locally.
“The money comes back to us,” he stressed.
For those who would rather not send their donation to Winnipeg, they are welcome to mail it or drop it off personally at the Salvation Army office here.
While large disasters often inspire people to dig into their pockets, people often forget the needy in their own communities.
“We don’t need to see another tsunami or river flood in our community to help those in need,” Capt. Angel said. “What we need to see is the hand of God in our homes and the way he helps us to cope with different needs in our lives.”
In order to spread the message of giving to children, the Sandovals invited local schools to participate in an essay contest about why we should help others in need.
Students from Robert Moore and Nestor Falls Schools participated, with three prizes to be awarded for the best essays in each class.
Students at Nestor Falls even designed posters illustrating sharing with the needy.
The Grade 6 class at Robert Moore received a pizza party on Friday for their participation.